FYI: Pre-universal iPod docks won't charge iPhone 3G either


We already know that the iPhone 3G dock (sold separately) is only compatible with the iPhone 3G, and a few moments ago I discovered that the opposite is true across the board as well. I knew that the original iPhone dock and the universal dock (which supports everything from the third-gen iPod to the first-gen iPhone) weren’t compatible with the iPhone 3G, but I had no idea that the pre-universal docks didn’t work either. I guess I naively expected Apple to forget they ever made those.


I don’t know exactly which model it is, but the dock my husband currently uses with his iPod touch is the one that doesn’t support those universal dock adapters. I think he got it in 2004.


It’s much bigger than the first-gen iPhone dock.




And the iPhone 3G fits into it quite nicely. It isn’t a perfect fit, obviously, but it’s certainly an easy one.


Since the same can’t be said of the old iPhone dock (as you can see above, the iPhone 3G really doesn’t fit in there), I actually thought I stumbled upon something that Apple missed.



I was immediately proven wrong when I plugged in the old dock.

So, in case you’re wondering, just because the iPhone 3G fits into a dock that’s been compatible with every device since 2003 doesn’t mean it can charge through it.

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Jenn K. Lee

Jenn K. Lee is the founder of Pocketables. She loves gadgets the way most women love shoes and purses. The pieces in her tech wardrobe that go with everything are currently the Samsung Galaxy Note II, Sony Tablet P, and Nexus 7, but there are still a couple of vintage UMPCs/MIDs in the back of her closet.

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15 thoughts on “FYI: Pre-universal iPod docks won't charge iPhone 3G either

  • I just read about how Apple is now using lock-out chips to prevent non-authorized accessories from working. So, your dock may be physically and electrically compatible, but it won’t work because it doesn’t have the special Apple chip in it (which is now quite expensive).

    In other words, Apple put engineering into making sure that only things that make them money work – and preventing any home-brew stuff, too. Nice.

    Info here:

  • Hey, come on, you wouldn’t expect Apple to not milk the cow until it’s dead. After all, their “original” dock is only 3 times the price of all the “universal” ones sold by other manufacturers …
    And the only thing that makes it more expensive is the “sold your soul” chip plus that additional 500% margin …

    Well, if Apple should even bother to comment it certainly will be some BS about “ensuring that your 3G iPhone is not damaged by incompatible hardware”.

    Btw., everybody who does not want to keep a full collection of iPods and 1st gen iPhones: How about throwing away the 6 month old $1000 Bose stereo system / $2000 Pioneer AV Receiver / $300 Logitech speaker system / … because the iPod dock on those does not work with your new toy?

    Apple … you got to love them …
    And I believe this little detail of information was the final nail to the coffin where I put my idea of potentially getting an iPhone 3G as my next phone (in 3 to 4 months when they come down to a reasonable price without a 24month contract) instead of a “normal” phone from Nokia, Samsung, etc.

    And no, I don’t hate Apple – I don’t hate companies.
    But sometimes a little rant is nice :-)

  • @ A. Davis: Oh, that’s very bad. I suppose it’s one thing for old accessories to be incompatible with the iPhone 3G, but for a software update to turn a previously compatible device into an incompatible one?! That’s seriously screwed up. Keep us posted.

  • Avatar of Jose Perez

    Here’s my understanding: Apple originally charged iPods through Firewire and/or USB. The firewire charging method used different pins and different voltages in the dock connector, so supporting both methods required different charging paths, and other considerations. Since Firewire has not been available as a sync method for years, Apple had warned accessory makers that Firewire charging was also going away. The iPhone 3g is the first iPod to eliminate Firewire charging, which is what broke older accessories. I am not too happy about it (I have a set of portable speakers and a car charger that now do not charge my phone), but I understand it.

  • Hey – I don’t know if this helps much, but this dock will in fact sync and charge the 3G iPhone (it is in fact syncing and charging right now on my MBP) – but only if it is connected with a USB cable.

    So the best I can suggest is take the cable you got with your new phone, and plug it in to the dock, at least you don’t have to buy a dock! (Audio out works fine to, contrary to screen messages).

  • Avatar of Corey Sax

    My pre-universal dock works. I get the notice on the iphone that states that the dock isn’t compatible, but I still get a charge, can sync and can take calls.

  • I actually work for a company that makes iPod cables…If we were to come out with an adapter for around 29.99, would you guys buy?

    feel free to contact me [email protected]

  • Thanks for the info and interesting thread. After trying to figure why my older (model with round infa-red on front) universal dock showed the “will not charge” icon triangle with the new 3G, I found this thread.

    As described the dock will charge when hooked up to my computer and usb cable, but not charge when inserted into same dock plugged into wall socket with power adaptor.

    Apple store employees were clueless to this fact. This thread saved me some grief at the store, so thanks for the head’s up.

  • Hmm. Yes, like one of the people who commented above, my iPhone 3G also charges when plugged into a pre-universal dock that’s attached to the USB on my Mac. I get the warning about it being an unsuitable accessory too, but no warning about charging not working. Which is apt, as it does work.

  • Don’t give up – just get USB!

    Just to clarify – I’m using both the ‘universal’ dock, and an original pre-universal dock with my iPhone 3G, and they charge the phone very well. The trick is to use a USB power supply. This doesn’t have to be a computer. Both my docks also work if I attach the dock cable to an A/C wall charger that uses USB instead of Firewire (like the A/C adapter and cable that come with the iPhone 3G). My guess is that many people are just dropping the iPhone 3G into a dock that’s connected to an old firewire charger plugged into the wall (or their computer), and when they see the ‘no charge’ warning, they assume the dock is useless. USB cables and A/C adapters are very cheap now (check out eBay), and so there’s no reason to throw away a $50 apple dock. You will still get the the ‘airplane mode’ prompt, but you can simply ignore it and the iPhone continues to charge.

  • Avatar of b patel

    hey guys i use my ipod nano with my honda thru vai adapter but i try to use my iphone 3g it gives same massaage..can any help me? pleae write me at [email protected]

  • Avatar of B Williams

    I bought this Charge Converter from CableJive. It allows me to charge my iPhone 3g on many accessories that would not normally charge the newer models and has successfully fixed the issue with my H+K Dock. I definitely recommend checking them out.

  • I was pissed and then resigned, so I started charging my iPhone 3Gs using the power cord that came with it. Then the next time I put it in my old iPod dock, it miraculously started charging again. Whenever I get the yellow triangle “charging is not support with this accessory” screen I just plug it in again for a little while then put it back on the dock and it charges.


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